Nov 4, 2009

10 Ways to Turn Failure Into Success

I once felt like a total failure when losses and lack of capital forced me to close my company doors (temporarily) and get a J-O-B. It was hard to do this - I'd spent hours and hours working on a product I felt could make my company successful. However, I hadn't yet learned the art - or science - of the launch process. As a result, my product launch failed, therefore forcing me to leave re-launch of my company for another day.

My Mother was kind enough to remind me of that early business failure when I told her about my upcoming launch of Cold to GoldTM. But Cold to Gold is different than that early launch failure in several ways. First of all, I'm not launching it until my list and JV program is in place and solidified. Sure, I'll be conducting sales training workshops over the next few months to teach it in person and know how the exercises play out to determine the viability for each of these techniques to be included in the launch videos. After all, it is important to have great product content. And, I'm taking how I failed in the past and using that knowledge to cover my bases in this launch to ensure success. Further, I've studied how other Internet Marketers launch products successfully and utilizing those techniques to launch Cold to Gold. Last, the content in Cold to Gold is unique - you can't get some of these techniques anywhere else - and from early reviews people are telling me this is "kick-butt" information worth more than I'm charging. Not only that, but my last two launches were considerably more successful than that earlier failure. I believe Cold to Gold, on the other hand, will be my most successful launch ever. Why? Because Cold to Gold is my Magnum Opus to selling - the world-class best of class techniques culminated from not just my failures, but also my SUCCESSES.

I know about success: I've gone from the bottom of the ladder to the top of the ladder with five different companies, and in the process learned what separates those who win from those who lose. I also feel that my failures have been turned into learning experiences to win the next time. And that is due to one simple belief:

Failure Isn't As Bad As You Think.

Or, put differently, even the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers might win a Super Bowl again someday. (Sorry Raider fans, I couldn't resist, that was to jab a pal of mine who lives in the Bay Area!)

The reason why failure isn't as bad as you think, seriously, is because you can learn from these failures and use these experiences to craft your next SUCCESS. There are some techniques I've developed to ensure you can turn a failure into a success. I'd like to share them with you in this article. Interested? Here you go:

1st Strategy to Turn Failure Into Success: Learn from it.  Failure Is A Great Way To Learn.

In fact, if you're wise, you will learn from your failures, and figure out the things you *missed* the last time... the next time you won't make those mistakes, you will learn from the best, you will model your sculpture of your success...carving away what needs to be removed... shaping...honing it until what remains is the sculpture you most want to convey.

Until maybe you make a sculpture like this one:

After all, that's the sign of success, right? Thumbs up!

I'll never forget Mrs. Hirons, my Freshman English teacher. She would write an "R" on any paper with more than ONE error. She only gave an A for outstanding work. But more than that she would require you to rewrite the paper if you didn't spell right, didn't use proper grammar, and so forth. While I'm not a perfect writer even today, I'm probably a much better writer due to all of the failures I submitted to Mrs. Hirons and the papers I rewrote to get it right and receive an "A" in her class. So, don't get ticked when you get it wrong. Rewrite it. Do it over. That's the joy in life, you can do it again, only the next time with new information gained from the time you got it wrong.

2nd method to turn failure into success: TRY TO FAIL.

How about considering this: TRY TO FAIL! It is one approach that can actually free you of the fear of failure. Imagine if a salesperson actually counted their NO results as much as their YES results. I actually do this in my own call tracking. I track the percentage of success. If I see the percentage go up, then even though I may have heard "no" more often, if I also hear "yes" equally or more often, then I consider that a form of success. What's also cool about trying to fail is you don't have to worry about being perfect; after all, you're not trying to succeed. The funny thing is you just might succeed by accident using this approach.

3rd method to turn failure into success: TRY AGAIN. Don't give up! Learn from your mistake, then try it again with something new. The worst thing that can happen is you fail again, right? The best thing that can happen: you SUCCEED!! Hey- it's possible, believe you can, do it right, and you will!

The 4th method of turning failure into success: REFRAME your DEFINITION of FAILURE and SUCCESS.

Instead of seeing failure as SUCCESS = ME TRY = ME FAIL
Look at it as ME + TRY = FAIL + LEARN & TRY AGAIN (repeat until DO RIGHT) = SUCCESS

Success is now not an either/or proposition; rather, success is a destination accomplished THROUGH failure. In other words, you no longer need to avoid failure, but rather, EMBRACE failure. Just be careful you don't embrace it too much!

Here is an awesome video that reinforces this point:

5th strategy to turn failure into success: Choose winners for friends! 

Surround yourself with people who have failed, then went on to succeed, and you'll be more likely to succeed, too. Do you ever notice how successful people often hang out with other successful people? Who are you hanging out with? Are they successful? Are they wannabees? Are they doing what they say they'll do? Hang out with the people who have failed a lot and succeeded more than the average bear and you'll improve your own chances of success. Why? Because our NETWORK is what helps us become SUCCESSFUL. If I was an owner of a football team, the first thing I would do is make sure that my team was loaded with players who'd won a championship in recent years in several key positions. I'd make sure these were the type of players known to step up and take positions of leadership. After all, if you want to win a championship, it helps to have people who've been there, done that.

Try this exercise: 

1. Make a list of the ten (10) people who you hang out with the most.
2. Approximate the gross income of these people on this list.
3. Add the income up, and divide it by 10. This is probably what you make.

Am I right? Or am I wrong? Choose your mentors WISELY. Make sure they're playing at the level YOU want to play at and go for those people as your friends and start hanging out with the people playing at the level you want to be playing. To summarize, surround yourself with the most successful people you can.

While I'm at it, might I suggest the 6th strategy to turn failure into success: LEVERAGE YOUR NETWORK! The concept of LEVERAGE is key to building a house. I'll never forget how my Dad used pulley's and ropes to pull each framed wall up into position in our house. He used leverage to make it possible for two men and a few little kids to lift something that people normally could not lift. Leveraging your network makes it possible to do things that otherwise, on your own, you simply could not do. Rather than try to do all things, who do you know who can help? Leverage these key winners to help you win with your project!

Persistence matters. 

Consider these people who went down in history as "great successes" but looking deeper, consider their record:

George Washington: Lost 5 out of 8 major battles in Revolutionary War. He won the battle that mattered most: Yorktown. As they say, you can lose a battle, but don't lose the war. After his early losses, he suffered such despair and depression he almost didn't make it. In fact, the entire army was due to leave prior to the crossing of the Delaware. During that crucial week, Washington pleaded with his army to stay for one more month - that the impact of making a difference with their lives counted upon it. Then he learned that the British left a division of their army relatively unguarded at Trenton. After an opportunity to surprise the British at Trenton and later, Princeton, Washington's victory crossing the Delaware River in the hail, sleet, and cold night that Christmas week turned the tide of the war and enabled the American Government (through Benjamin Franklin) to convince the French to weigh in and help the American cause. It was largely due to the presence of French forces, artillery, and the fleet blocking the British escape, that presented Washington with the opportunity to win the war.

Thomas Edison, the great inventor, was fired at the age of 20 from his job at Associated Press for spilling sulfuric acid from a lead battery onto the floor (which subsequently dripped onto his boss's desk). He later went on to invent the phonograph, quadruplex telegraph, and the first commercially practical incandescent light. According to Wikipedia, several other light bulbs were invented prior, but failed to sustain light for very long. It took Edison about 10,000 tries to get the light bulb to be able to sustain light over prolonged periods of time before replacing the bulb. He later formed General Electric, which today is one of the largest companies in the world.

Ulysses S. Grant, a hero on the Northern side in the American Civil War, failed at every business venture he ever pursued (real estate agent, laborer, and engineer) before being the architect of the offensive strategy that eventually wore down and defeated the superb Army of Northern Virginia and command of Robert E. Lee. You'll note that Grant apparently developed skills from each area he failed at prior to his military career. He later used those skills to varying levels of success in his victories and campaigns at Vicksburg, St. Petersburg, and Richmond. Each of these victories included persistence, feats of engineering, and long laborious struggles to accomplish. So, in my opinion, the earlier failures of Grant's years in business later served a positive impact in his ability to lead an army and win a war. It was his success as a general which enabled him to become a future President of the United States.

After early success with the Apple IIE, and the Macintosh, Steve Jobs lost an internal political battle and got forced out of the company he co-founded. He later went on to fail on many levels with the NeXT computer; however, succeeded in developing an operating system that became the heart of Apple's new iMac product line upon merging back with Apple. He also bounced back with a wise investment in the success of Pixar, the animation company he later sold to Disney. I think the failures of Steve Jobs shaped his ability to know a "winner" from a "loser" with technology to the point of also spotting the opportunities with the iPod, iTunes, and the iPhone.

The 7th strategy to turn failure into success: Stand for a JUST CAUSE.

To quote Abraham Lincoln, who himself lost 6 elections and failed in business twice before becoming the 16th President of the United States of America:

“The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.”

In my own past, I've failed at one job, only to emerge victorious a year later in the next job. Why? I believed the job was a just cause. I was told by one boss that I couldn't sell my way out of a paper bag, only to have him offer me back that same job at twice the pay after having every account I touched become a client in the three months after he'd fired me. In the next job, I won a jet ski for my sales success, proving I could not only sell my way out of a paper bag - but all the way to the top of the line amongst a more experienced and aggressive group of salespeople.

I've now launched several products and programs, the most recent the SLO Winter Funk Festival, which broke even in year one (despite horribly cold and windy weather) and now, in year two, is attracting a very impressive board and volunteer staff who I believe can help turn this into a huge success this year. The SLO Jazz Festival ( will follow later in 2010. People are interested in these festivals because they are seen as a JUST CAUSE - something the community, at large, needs, to be more culturally hip and enjoyable.

The 8th strategy to turn failure into success: Keep ACTIVE. Faced with failure, the business leaders who WIN stay in motion. They quit the bad job, they separated from investors they conflicted with, they got up off the sidewalk and went back to work. Even in the situation where Washington lost numerous early battles in the Revolutionary War, he stayed in motion and constantly fooled his opponent as to where his army might be located in order to pick a place to fight when he might win. What works in battle works in business, too. Stay in MOTION. Then pick your spots to win carefully. It's true in sports, too! Ever notice how when a quarterback is just about to be sacked, but somehow escapes his tackler. Next thing you know, he's throwing to a wide-open receiver, because the defender thought the play was over! The quarterback and receiver STAYED IN MOTION!

This happened again during Game 4 of the current World Series on November 1, 2009, when the Phillies first kept in motion by coming back in the 7th and 8th innings with a run in each inning to tie the score at 4-4 after being down 4-2 earlier in the game. The Yankees began the 9th inning with two outs still tied 4-4. The next batter, Damon, was down in the count one ball and two strikes. It did not look good for the Yankees, as going into the bottom of the 9th in Philadelphia could result in a loss easily. However, Damon but battled back to get on base after fouling off several pitches. Damon then stole second and when nobody was covering third base he stole third, too! The Yankees kept the play in motion and ended up with three runs to go up 7-4 at the end of the inning. It was Damon's crucial at-bat that won the game, though. Their closer came in and finished off the Phillies one-to-three in the bottom of the ninth to win the game and go ahead 3-1 in the series. Although they lost game 5, the Yankees again kept it in motion by coming back to lose 8-6 after being down 6-1 early in the game. My bet: they'll win the series tonight - probably by keeping the ball in play every way they can and playing heads-up baseball. As my brother says "I like baseball because it is about the only sport without a clock determining when the game is over. You simply HAVE to get the guy out, or you lose." Therefore, baseball is also the ultimate game to watch to see how teams keep it in play, stay in motion, and keep active to stay alive and win games.

The 9th strategy to turn failure into success: GRATITUDE. Celebrate all small victories and even a few failures. It is okay to fail. I'll never forget the manager who SPIFFED (I believe SPIF stood for Special Performance Indicator Fund) a salesperson who tried something different, even though they lost the deal. They wanted to reward taking chances. Express gratitude through rewards, pats on the back, for EFFORT. People who try things and keep trying to improve ought to be rewarded when they DO succeed, too. I always love when a baseball team congratulates a PITCHER (normally not good hitters) for laying down a successful bunt to advance the base runners, even though he got out in the process. That's a prime example of this strategy at work.

The 10th and last strategy to turn failure into success is to either take uncommon chances and/or learn from those taking the chances. The people who are willing to try new things are likely to fail more often. But, they also discover new ways to win! Sometimes, by going for it, they inspire the rest of the team to go for it, too. Those willing to live on the bleeding edge are experiencing that blood for a reason. A friend of mine yesterday told me I ought to wear a shirt that says "been there, done that" because of all of my experiences in life and business. Another strategy is to follow those who live on the bleeding edge, then ask THEM for advice about what to do or not to do. You might limit your failures this way and increase your successes through the wisdom of someone else who has been there, done that.

In what way have you failed? Perhaps you need to redefine the failures of your past and find ways to incorporate what you did right, eliminate what you did wrong, and turn the wisdom from that loss into winning strategies in your future. For those who currently feel like a failure in the middle of this current market recession, let me remind you that many of the world's greatest human beings emerged victorious from periods of loss, downtime, or other catastrophe. I encourage you to do the same. Keep yourself in play, look for an optimum time to launch your strike, then strike with all you have, and you will win.

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